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Water Withdrawal Permits for Agricultural Facilities

DEC Regulates Water Withdrawal

New York State is fortunate to have plentiful water resources, but water demands are increasing. The regulation of large water withdrawals ensures the protection, conservation, and wise use of water resources so that they remain available for all purposes.

"Withdrawal or withdrawal of water" means the removal or extraction of water for any purpose from waters of the state. Water that you remove from any surface water or groundwater source is considered to be a withdrawal. Water that you purchase (such as bulk water trucking or purchases from municipalities) is not considered to be a withdrawal.

Reports, Registration, and Permits

A report ("annual report") is a document that is submitted to DEC annually outlining current sources, their capacities, water usage, and water conservation efforts. Reports can be submitted annually by email or fax in PDF or our new online nForm system. Annual reports are due by March 31 of each year.

Registration was available as an alternative to a permit for existing agricultural withdrawals that were reported to DEC prior to February 15, 2012. Any sources (and the capacity/withdrawal of those sources) that were reported to DEC prior to that date are considered to be registered withdrawals. Any new sources or increases in withdrawal capacity after that date cannot be registered; a permit is required for them if the farm is withdrawing more than the threshold volume.

A water withdrawal permit ("permit") is a permit with conditions issued by the DEC. The permit authorizes the withdrawal of water for a specific activity, outlines which sources may be used, and how much water may be withdrawn from each source within a certain time period. Permits typically include water conservation conditions such as leak detection, maintaining accurate withdrawal records, and submitting reports annually. No permit is required for a farm that is always under the threshold volume.

What is the regulatory threshold for agricultural water withdrawals?

With the exception of wells of Long Island, the "threshold volume" for farms is a withdrawal of water equal to or in excess of an average of 100,000 gallons per day in any thirty-day consecutive period (3 million gallons during a 30-day period). Agricultural facilities that withdraw less than the threshold volume are not required to obtain a water withdrawal permit but are encouraged to submit annual reports to DEC.

Special Locations

Long Island, Delaware River Basin, and Susquehanna River Basin Farms

If your farm is located on Long Island and withdraws water from a well or wells with a combined capacity in excess of 45 gallons per minute, a Long Island Well Permit may be required instead of or in addition to a water withdrawal permit. Please contact the DEC Region 1 regional permit administrator for additional information.

If your farm is located in the Delaware of Susquehanna River Basin, you may need an approval from the Basin Commission instead of a water withdrawal permit. Please contact the Delaware River Basin Commission (leaves DEC website) or the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (leaves DEC website) for more information.

All Other Farms

With the exception of wells on Long Island or approved withdrawals in the Delaware or Susquehanna River Basins, water withdrawals for agricultural facilities are regulated under the Water Withdrawal Program (6 NYCRR Part 601). The "threshold volume" for farms is withdrawal or water equal to or in excess of an average of 100,000 gallons per day in any thirty-day consecutive period (3 million gallons during a 30-day period).

  • No water withdrawal permit is required for a farm that is always under the threshold volume even if new sources are added or capacity is increased, although other DEC permits may be required for the installation of intakes, pipelines, or structure related to the withdrawal of water.
  • No permit is required when a farm with registered withdrawals that had been below the threshold then exceeds the threshold because of increased usage without having added new sources or increased capacity. A permit will be required if new sources or capacity have been added or when they are added in the future.

A water withdrawal permit is required for a farm that is over the threshold volume if any of the following apply:

  • The facility did not register or report water usage prior to February 15, 2012.
  • The facility is planning to add a new water source or increase the capacity of existing sources registered or reported by February 15, 2012.
  • The facility has added new water sources or increased the capacity of existing sources after February 15, 2012 without a permit.
  • The facility's water withdrawal system was constructed after February 15, 2012.

Please visit our agricultural water withdrawal webpage for additional information and examples of actions that require a permit.

Registered or Reported Withdrawals

If you no longer have a record of the withdrawals you registered or reported by 2012, please contact the Regional Permit Administrator at your DEC Regional Office.

Unregistered Withdrawals

If you withdraw more than the threshold volume and you didn't register you withdrawals in 2012 for any reason (such as you were unaware of the requirement, your farm is new since 2012, or you have expanded your operation by adding new sources or capacity and now exceed the threshold), you need to apply for water withdrawal permit. Please see About Permits below.

What counts as increasing capacity?

Capacity is determined by summing the maximum potential withdrawal of all the water sources for a facility, independent of how they are plumbed or their designation, such as for redundancy or backup. Increasing reservoir storage (such as by enlarging or deepening a storage pond), installing higher capacity pumps, or increasing the size of the conduits of a surface water intake structure are some examples of increasing water withdrawal capacity.

Situations When a Permit is Not Required

  • No permit is required for purchased water regardless of delivery method (trucked, service line or other).
  • Water withdrawn for fire suppression is exempt from permit requirements.
  • In the event of other water supply emergencies, contact the Regional Permit Administrator at your DEC regional Office.
    • Note: You can plan ahead by including potential emergency sources in your permit application so they can be used in the event of drought or water withdrawal equipment failure without waiting for an emergency authorization or permit modification

Multiple-Parcel Farms

Farms with multiple locations/parcels will be considered to be a single facility if contiguous or proximate properties used for agricultural purposes are owned or operated by the same business entity or legally responsible party. Note that even if your parcels could be considered separately, consolidating them under a single permit may be the most efficient and cost-effective approach, especially if you anticipate future growth and expansion of your farming operations.

About Permits

Please contact the Regional Permit Administrator at your DEC regional Office to schedule a pre-application meeting. Although not required a pre-application meeting is strongly encouraged so you can learn about the application process, ask questions, and discuss site-specific considerations. In addition, a step-by-step guide to the application is available on the Agricultural Withdrawals page.

Site-specific Issues

There may be many site-specific situations (such as moving intake, adding a backup source, replacing a source in-kind) that are best addressed by contacting the DEC directly. Please contact the Regional Permit Administrator at your DEC Regional Office.

Permit Modifications

You will need to apply for a permit modification before you add new sources or increase the capacity of existing sources. Agricultural Water Withdrawals Permit Application Procedures has information on permit modifications. Be sure to plan ahead to allow time to obtain a permit modification when you anticipate increased water withdrawal needs.

What Does a Permit Cost?

There is no application fee for a permit, but you will need to hire a professional engineer to sign and stamp the required engineering report. You are not limited to hiring an agricultural engineer. Numerous consulting firms throughout the state have experience with water withdrawal permit applications.

There is no water use fee in New York State.

Well Pumping Test

If you withdraw (or will withdraw) more than the threshold volume, you need to obtain a permit before you put a new well into service. Your permit must include the results of a pumping test performed in accordance with DEC's Recommended Pumping Test Procedures. The pumping tests typically performed by well drillers at the time of installation do not provide the information necessary for permit applications. For existing wells, a pumping test waiver may be available. Please contact the Regional Permit Administrator at your DEC Regional Office for more information.

Learn More About Agricultural Water Withdrawal

Additional Assistance

Please contact the Regional Permit Administrator at your DEC regional Office.


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